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Traditionally, guardianships or conservatorships are considered by Maryland residents in relation to the aging population. These important mechanisms may also be used to manage the assets of a mentally impaired individual or someone who cannot maintain control of their assets. One such example of a guardianship being sought is that of a wealthy philanthropist who has received media attention lately after his disappearance.

After the man's disappearance, his wife and mother found themselves embroiled in a legal battle over guardianship of his estate. The philanthropist's estate is thought to be worth around $100 million. In the days immediately following his reported disappearance, both his wife and mother began to file paperwork to assume control over his assets and estate. Recently, the man's mother won her battle in court over guardianship.

The original petition filed by the mother in southern Florida was for complete control; however, she later revised the documents to include Northern Trust as the primary overseer of the estate. This case of guardianship does not directly involve an elderly or mentally impaired individual, although it has been suggested that the missing man is 'troubled' and potentially suffering from depression. It is sure to be the first of many battles between this wife and mother as they traverse their unusual and tragic situation.

Understanding how a guardianship can protect Maryland families is important. Tools such as guardianship or conservatorship may be helpful at any age, should the potential ward become incapacitated or incapable of maintaining control over their assets or estate. There are two forms of guardianship that may be sought; one over the person for needs such as health care or living arrangements and the other over the property or the assets and estate of the ward.

Source: New York Daily News, "Aguiar wife and mother clash in court: Compromise over missing millionaire Guma's $100 million estate could give Northern Trust conservatorship," Rheana Murray, June 29, 2012

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